SOUTHEAST: Tanner Carrick Seeking ‘Lady Luck’ In Speed51 Open

Jacob Seelman Featured, Mini Outlaws, Southeast 0 Comments

Tanner Carrick hopes to become the fifth different winner of the Speed51 Open at Millbridge Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)

SALISBURY, N.C. — 16-year-old Tanner Carrick would like nothing more than to keep his whirlwind 2017 season right on spinning, and he’ll do just that if he can find his way to victory lane in this week’s fourth annual QRC Speed51 Open presented by JGR MX.

Carrick is hoping to put his bad luck from last year’s edition of the Open behind him, in which he started on the pole of his qualifying heat race but was ultimately unable to make the 24-kart starting field for the 51-lap main event.

To make matters even more motivating, he had a top-five kart in the Prelude to the Open on May 17, before late-race trouble bit him and shattered his box score yet again.

“All I’ve ever had is bad luck (at Millbridge),” Carrick said. “I just need one break to go right, and I think we’d have a real chance at it. Every time I come here, I’m fast, and I feel like this year might finally be my year.”

“Hopefully this time around, we’ll finally get some good luck to fall our way and pick up that five grand for the win.”

The crown jewel event for mini outlaw karts, which began in 2014, has seen Mike Wheeler (2014), Logan Seavey (2015) and current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson (2016) win the three previous editions.

This year’s race features a potential $30,151 winner’s share, with an additional $25,000 going alongside the already-posted $5,151 check that will be awarded to the victor should he or she elect to drop to the rear of the field before the green flag and then come through to win the race.

In preparing for this year’s race, Carrick said that he has been relying on support from Wheeler, who is driving as a teammate out of the Carrick Motorsports stable for this year’s event.

He has also sought the knowledge of two-time Millbridge track champion Jimmy Elledge as he suits up for the big show.

“Mike’s taught me some things … but for me, what’s really helped is the knowledge that Jimmy (Elledge) has brought to our program. His QRC program, and then the knowledge that Nick Hoffman has given me with lines and how to get around this place … those have been the difference-makers for me.”

“The track has been pretty good to me when I’ve come out to race; it’s just hard to compete with the 450 (motors) around this place. We’ll get it all set back up and ready to race … and I’m confident we’ll be a contending car for the big money.”

Tanner Carrick has impressed in the Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 71k in the early stages of the season. (Photo courtesy Spike Chassis)

Carrick, whose year began with a call up from legendary midget owner Keith Kunz to drive one of the potent KKM national midgets, won his first USAC heat race on April 9 at Kokomo Speedway and followed that up with a second-place finish the following week.

Needless to say, the Lincoln, Calif. native has begun building momentum at the right time.

“I was never expecting a chance to run with Keith and (co-owner) Pete (Willoughby), but it’s been the most amazing experience so far that I think I’ve had in racing.”

Carrick started racing when he was just five years old, coincidentally in the outlaw kart ranks as he looked to find his footing on the West Coast.

Having done so successfully over the past 12 years, this season he branched out to pursue a new challenge, with his family taking ownership of both a 360 and 410 sprint car just prior to his signing with the Kunz stable.

“We actually got the call (from KKM) the day after we bought our family sprint car, and there was no question what the answer was going to be.”

“When Keith Kunz asks you about running one of his cars, you say yes. They’re the best there is right now. We’ve had some success and we’re hoping to have a lot more.”

After postponement of the originally-scheduled preliminary night racing for the Speed51 Open on Tuesday, the entire Open division portion of the program has been shifted to Wednesday, weather permitting.

For more information on this year’s Speed51 Open, visit


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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